The hydrogen and
fuel cell center

Cleaning hydrogen: ZBT investigates new process

Fuel cell-based mobility requires clean hydrogen. Within the NRW project Hy-Cleanup, ZBT together with Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung is investigating new materials for removal of impurities from hydrogen.

Hy-Lab: In the project, the ZBT uses its facilities to analyse hydrogen quality.

Hydrogen as a carbon-free energy carrier will play an important role as a fuel for future mobility. For the distribution of hydrogen, large parts of the existing natural gas pipeline network are to be used and further expanded and extended, respectively.

However, due to the long-term use of the pipelines for the transport of natural gas, impurities are present in the pipelines, which lead to contamination of the supplied hydrogen. Furthermore, impurities can also enter the hydrogen during hydrogen production, distribution or compression. However, fuel cells need high-purity hydrogen to achieve their lifetime targets.

Filter systems with high absorption rates and loading capacities can help to remove these and to comply with the limits defined in the international quality standards EN 17124:2022 and ISO 14687:2019. Preliminary investigations of the process to be developed in the Hy-Cleanup project showed that it has the potential to remove harmful species - especially sulphur compounds and carbon monoxide - from hydrogen to below the limits specified in the standards.

The materials used had high loading capacities. They are based on substances developed by the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, which belong to the group of substances known as complex aluminium hydrides. Simulations based on the material reactivities show that these materials are suitable for adsorbing numerous contaminants - in addition to the already mentioned sulphur compounds and carbon monoxide already mentioned, also ammonia, formaldehyde, halogenated hydrocarbons or formic acid.

The aim of the project is the development of a process that provides high retention qualities and loading capacities for a large number of relevant impurities in hydrogen.

ZBT elaborates the application-related specifications for this project. Project focuses lie on the characterisation of the adsorber materials as well as the identification and validation of suitable process parameters. Finally, a filter concept will be developed on the basis of the results obtained.


Start: 15 October 2022
Duration: 3 years
Partner: Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung
Contact at the ZBT: Thomas Optenhostert
Hy-Lab - Laboratory for Hydrogen Quality

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